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Whatever happened to social purpose? Adult educators' stories of political commitment and change

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As part of a larger research project examining the biographies of university adult educators who entered the field between 1975 and 1985, the aim of this paper is to highlight a number of themes that have emerged from this investigation around the issue of sustaining commitment to social purpose. Our objective was to find out whether those in the sample had, on entry, a commitment to social justice and change and whether they have been able to sustain that social purpose since then. We have analysed some stories collected from a particular cohort of educators (of which we ourselves are part), in order to further understanding of the way that members of this group conceptualise social purpose and construct their identities, and of the ways in which their praxis has been shaped as a result. In the process, a number of themes have emerged, reflecting the political and cultural contexts of the last quarter of the twentieth century, and these form the focus of this paper. This is appropriate for this anniversary issue of the International Journal of Lifelong Education , as both our and others' experience of working in university adult education as teachers and researchers used in this study corresponds almost exactly with the period during which the IJLE has been published; we entered this field in 1978–1979.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Leeds, UK 2: University of East London, UK

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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